Monthly Archives: February 2009

Lightning talks tomorrow (and a special guest!)

As we normally do on every other Friday, SRT Solutions will hold lightning talks tomorrow at our office.  But THIS WEEK, we have a special guest.  Catherine Devlin, one of our favorite python developers and PyCon and PyOhio organizers, will be joining us!  I first met Catherine at CodeMash 2007,and am thrilled that she's making her way "up north" (from Dayton) this week.  Catherine came to one of our first lightning talks last year.  She always has something interesting to say.

As always, I'm looking forward to lightning talks!  Please join us.

Lightning talks are our way of keeping up to date with what the other SRT developers are doing, as well as what the other developers in the community are doing.  We love it when outside people attend.  People come to listen and to speak (no one is forced to speak).  We'll start at 3:30, with people writing their topics on the whiteboard.  Then we'll start, giving each presenter 5 minutes to talk about the topic of his or her choice, before moving on to the next one.  It's great fun and very informative.

SRT Solutions is at 206 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 200, Ann Arbor.  That's at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Washington.  Entrance to our building is from Fifth.  Take elevator to 2R or take stairs PAST Suite 225 to Suite 200.

Looking ahead to the Java Posse Roundup (next week!)

The Java Posse is a group of guys (Dick Wall, Carl Quinn, Tor Norbye, Joe Nuxoll) who love Java enough to dedicate time to staying up on the latest in the Java world and reporting it for the rest of us.  I suspect that I'm not the only one who is only able to keep up on the news because of the time that these guys spend each week.  Two years ago, they teamed up with Bruce Eckel to host the first ever Java Posse Roundup Open Spaces conference.  Participants decided what they wanted to talk about, using the very lightweight process of placing a post-it note up on the conference schedule.  Voila! Conference born! The Posse (as we call them) was dubious at first.  Would people come?  Would they get something out of it?

The first year (2007) was a huge success, judging from the reactions of the participants and the posse.  We all learned a lot.  Friendships lasted beyond the week of Java immersion.    Everyone embraced the idea of making the conference their own, and lightning talks evolved in the evenings as well.

The second year (2008) saw previous year participants sharing houses, more lightning talks, and a pre-conference day discussing Android (which was hot off the presses last year). And, we added some workshops in the evenings as well.  The conference continues to evolve, and that's really the beauty of it.

This year, a pre-conference hackathon was added.  The pre-conference day is free to anyone who happens to be in the Crested Butte area on March 2, the hackathon will consist of a loosely organized set of houses, each sponsoring a different language on the JVM.  At the moment of this writing, Scala, Jython, Groovy (Grails, Griffon), and Fan have been identified. More may emerge (Clojure anyone?  JRuby?).  We'll kick of the morning with a short intro/orientation at the Posse House (a house in town where the Posse is staying), then quickly spread out to the various houses around town hosting different languages.  People will be free to move between houses/dojo sessions just as they are free (in fact, encouraged) to move about the open spaces sessions that will make up the main conference March 3-6.

I look forward to this conference all year. It's never the same, always fun, and always wickedly informative.  And yes, there's skiing too.  Each day during the week has time for participants to head off to go skiing.  Some people will choose to stay back and code on those days, or just hang out, but the ski hill does see a lot of geek talk that week as well!  I'm hoping to again ditch the ski hill in favor of skinny skis (nordic trails).  Each year so far, I've been successful in recruiting some people to go out with me.  Joe caught Tor crashing on camera last year … hilarious.

If you want to join us, you can still register at


Great Podcast: 13 Mistakes and 13 Brilliant Strokes

One of my favorite podcasts is the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast. Yesterday, I listened to Hugh Martin of Pacific Biosciences "13 Mistakes and 13 Brilliant Strokes". This is definitely worth the time (54 minutes). Martin has started companies and worked for Kleiner Perkins.  The talk has tidbits ranging from how to grow a company to how to form a company to avoid an inopportune sale by anxious VC's.  It's definitely worth listening to!

Ann Arbor New Tech Meetup was a great event!

Last night, about 120 people converged upon Google Ann Arbor for a new, regular event that has emerged in Ann Arbor. Dug Song put together the Ann Arbor New Tech Meetup. Leaders from 5 Companies took the stage, spending 10 minutes however they wished to talk about their companies, products, etc.  This was NOT limited to software, although each of the companies had some software in their product.  The companies were:

Care Evolution provides secure Health Information Exchange solutions.  I liked how the speaker (Vik Kheterpal) described it as the Expedia of Health Care records.

Crowd Clarity is based on ideas from Wisdom of Crowds. They have an application that allows employees from organizations to "place bets" on which of their products will be a hit in the marketplace, and rank them. This feeds back to the company and can be used to project sales (and thus, target incentives for items that aren't selling well).

InstaTell Diagnostics is a UM spinoff that's commercializing the speeding up of diagnosing bacterial infections and improving on the more targeted use of antibiotics.

TheGenerationProject gives donors (in education) full control over how their funds are used. The founders are former educators from the Bronx, currently living in Ann Arbor.

URTURN is a Web2.0 project that pays you for activities that you already do on Facebook.  Rewards are paid in Uros (its own social currency). They also give away prizes.

StartupDrinks at Bar Louie followed the event, where conversations continued.

I'm already looking forward to the next event, which will be in a different format. March 26 will be Ann Arbor Tech Cocktail #1 at 7 pm.  TechNow 09 will be held April 23 in Royal Oak at the Royal Oak Music Theater.

These events are great for our area, showcasing what's going on! I'm thrilled that Dug, through a2geeks, has taken this on!

Josh Marinacci blogs about JavaFX Mobile …

Josh Marinacci, who I enjoyed meeting at the Java Posse Roundup, is working on the JavaFX team.  His blog, always interesting, was really catchy today, saying, "There is no JavaFX Mobile.  There is only JavaFX".  The upcoming release fully supports JavaFX Mobile. Full mobile support. Josh's point seems to have even surprised Josh himself.  He said that he realized this morning what a big deal it was that you don't have to know anything more than JavaFX to write mobile apps.  "There is only JavaFX". Nice.  But don't take it from me.  Read Josh's blog!

Upcoming tech events in Ann Arbor area

The Michigan Python User Group (MichiPUG) meeting is tonight at 7 pm, at SRT.  If you want to learn how to write a web framework using WSGI, this is the place to come.  Kevin Dangoor (creator of TurboGears web framework) and Mark Ramm (maintainer for TurboGears 2) are both Ann Arborites and usually attend.

Tomorrow, Phil Wilmington of PeopleSoft will speak at the MPowered Entrepreneurship Hour on "Entrepreneurship in a Changing Technology Environment". This is held at the Stamps Auditorium, Walgreens Drama Center.

Next week:

At 6 pm on Monday February 9, the Ann Arbor New Tech February meetup will be held at the Google building in Ann Arbor (201 S. Division St, 3rd Floor).  Sign up at 5 companies this month take the stage for 10 minutes each, 5 minutes to demo and 5 minutes to answer questions, followed by networking downstairs at Bar Louie. Space is limited, RSVP strictly required.

At the same time, across the street, the Flex/RIA group meets at SPARK Central, 330 E. Liberty, Lower Level, in Ann Arbor from 6-7:30 pm.

The Michigan!/usr/group meets on Tuesday from 6:30-9 at the Farmington Community Library, 32737 W. 12 Mile Rd, Farmington Hills, MI. George Castro is going to talk about microblogging.

The Ann Arbor .NET Developers group meets at SRT Solutions (206 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 200, Ann Arbor) from 6-8:30 pm.  Patrick Steele will be talking about ASP.NET MVC.

And on Thursday, January 12, the Michigan Flex User Group meets in East Lansing at MSU.

To close out the week, on Friday, January 13, SRT will hold its biweekly lightning talks, from 3:30-5. Join us for 5 minute sessions on tech topics. All are welcome to speak and/or listen!

Also, a group is forming to drive from Ann Arbor down to EdgeCase in Columbus for Merb and Rails 3.0 with Yehuda Katz. Contact Winston Tsang if you want to rideshare (not sure how much room is available).